How popular is the Massachusetts coast with Great Whites? Very, it seems

A sign warned beach goers of the presence of great white sharks at Lighthouse Beach in Chatham.
A sign warned beach goers of the presence of great white sharks at Lighthouse Beach in Chatham.8.1.2817707491

Researchers have been watching as a young Great White shark travels along the New England coast over the past few days, including observing a visit to Cape Cod and the area near Wellfleet Harbor Wednesday.

The non-profit research group OCEARCH tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the shark, nicknamed “Cisco,” was near North Eastham, where a transmitter on the animal “pings tight to beach.” Before that, the shark was picked up near the coast of Barnstable Tuesday night.

Since Cisco was tagged in October off the coast of Nantucket, he’s traveled nearly 2,700 miles, according to OCEARCH. The shark was named for Cisco Beach on Nantucket and the Cisco Brewery.


OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker has data on nearly 200 sharks, including Cisco, and links to the shark’s personal Twitter feed, where he’s followed by about 2,300 people.

In Cisco’s case, he made it as far south as the South Carolina coast, where he spent at least part of Christmas Eve, and then made his way back north, returning to New England earlier this month, according to OCEARCH.

His most recent location, detected around 10:30 Wednesday night, placed Cisco off the coast of southern Maine.

According to OCEARCH, Cisco is an 8-foot, 7-inch long immature male Great White, weighing in at 362 pounds.

That’s rather runty for a Great White; National Geographic reports a mature shark can reach an average of 15 feet in length and bulk up to 5,000 pounds. That means the largest predatory fish on Earth, with a mouthful of about 300 serrated teeth, can weigh more than the average car.

(It’s worth noting that you’re more likely to be killed by tornadoes, lightning, and, yes, sand, than by a shark, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History.)


The Massachusetts region appears to attract Great Whites. In 2016, researchers identified nearly 150 great whites swimming off the coast from June to October. The state’s Marine Fisheries agency reported that the Massachusetts coastline is home to at least 13 shark species.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.